The mind (or the heart) is the battlefield. It is where you will either be defeated by the enemy or where you will learn to walk in victory through the Holy Spirit. This is where the Holy Spirit concentrates His work. Everything out of the mouth proceeds (or comes from) the heart, from the inner most thoughts (Mark 7:20-23). What this tells you is that if you want to see what manner of person you are, you only have to look so far as what jars or shakes you. Whatever comes out of that stressful, emotionally charged moment is what was in you all along.
Sometimes I think we all think, depending on how much we were raised or influenced, that when we stand before God on the Day of Judgment, He will review our lives, our deeds, our actions. But the one thing we rarely seem to talk about or mention in those particular conversations about judgment day is that God will not only be looking at those things, He will be looking also at the thoughts and intentions behind them.
Most of the time people don’t see me cuss, struggle, or lose my temper. They only see what appears to be the sweeter side of who I am or the work the Holy Spirit has already accomplished in me. While I am glad for this, I also know that God sees and records ALL (1 Samuel 16:7, Psalms 139:23, Proverbs 21:2). There is nothing hidden that will not one day be revealed (Mark 4:21-24). I alone know how deeply ugly and troubling my thoughts can be. I know a single thought can distract and take me so off course that what could have been a precious work of gold and jewels winds up being a work of wood, hay, and stubble instead (I Corinthians 3:10-17).
I think the important thing for those of us in Christ is not to fear that day or get discouraged by our failures. As we yield ourselves to Him in love, take captive every thought (II Corinthians 10:5), showing preference to one another (Philippians 2:1-11), knowing it is God who is working in us, to give us both the will and the ability (Philippians 2:13), we are transformed by the renewing of our minds into His image (Romans 8:29; Romans 12:2).
When we realize that the relationship with God we are seeking is the only thing that can fill the void in our lives, far outweighs and is of tremendous more value than any fleeting and temporal thought we may be having, that is when the Holy Spirit begins to have His way in us!
What does that mean, exactly, to take captive every thought? What thoughts do you struggle with? Where do you live – in reality or in fantasy? In speculation or supposition? We assume that we know, but we rarely do or at least not fully. Having the mind of Christ helps us to identify and know the thoughts that are contrary to His word (I Corinthians 2:16). We can then give them over to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to interrupt that thought and have His way with us. Knowing His word will help us to replace it with one of His own, so we stand in His strength and not our own (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Each time a battle like this takes place, Satan stands and demands permission to sift us like wheat. But be encouraged, Jesus himself is praying for us, so that once we turn again, we can strengthen each other (Luke 22:31, 1 Timothy 2:5, Hebrews 7:25, 1 John 2:1).
What does scripture have to say about this battlefield? See below for a brief study (emphasis mine).
|1 Samuel 16:7||But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”|
|Psalms 139:23||Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts|
|Proverbs 21:2||Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts.|
|Proverbs 23:7||For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.|
|Matthew 5:27-28||“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.|
|Matthew 18:35||My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”|
|Mark 4:21-24||And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand? For nothing is hidden, except to be revealed; nor has anything been secret, but that it would come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” And He was saying to them, “Take care what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.|
|Mark 7:20-23||And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”|
|Mark 7:6-13||And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, is to be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”
|Luke 22:31||“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”|
|Romans 8:29||For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren|
|Romans 12:2||And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.|
|Romans 12:10||Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor|
|I Corinthians 2:16||For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.|
|I Corinthians 3:10-17||According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.|
|II Corinthians 4:4||In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.|
|II Corinthians 10:5||We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ|
|II Corinthians 11:13||But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.|
|Ephesians 4:22-24||that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.|
|Ephesians 6:10-17||10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.|
|Philippians 2:1-11||Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.|
|Philippians 2:13||for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.|
|Philippians 4:7||And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.|
|I Timothy 2:5||For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus|
|II Timothy 1:7||For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.|
|Hebrews 7:25||Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.|
|1 Peter 1:13||Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.|
|1 John 2:1||My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous|